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Media culture is a firm part of youth cultures today. Media can also be seen as one empowering technology in the information society alongside traditional school and government. What kind of civic identities are young people constructing in contemporary media culture? This article discusses media-saturated youth and audience agency, drawing on Dahlgren's ideas of civic culture. Relying on empirical data from two case studies in Finland, we will introduce a typology of civic identities, which the young construct as members of the public in relation to media. Our first case study is a youth civic website called Vaikuttamo.net and the second is the Youth Voice Editorial Board, which consists of a group of young people producing news for mainstream media. Our research supports various earlier observations that young people are firmly engaged, though to a lesser extent, in the formal political realm. We particularly want to emphasize the role of the local media and the expressive potential of young people. The media should be noted as a public forum where cultural and political modes of expression and participation can be mixed - not only in global online media, but also in more traditional local media such as television and newspaper. The research shows that young people are also willing to enter generational public discussions about civic issues instead of keeping to their own forums of media publicity.
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Keywords: audience agency; civic engagement; identity; media; political participation; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Centre for Contemporary Culture, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland 2: Department of Education, University of Tampere, Finland

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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